Slow to Start, Local Man Finds Big Trade Off in Riding Bus

Stinger Anderson stopped riding the bus when his office closed under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. He’s returned to riding the bus again, but now wears a face mask and practices social distancing.

Stinger Anderson stopped riding the bus when his office closed under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. He’s returned to riding the bus again, but now wears a face mask and practices social distancing.

Stinger Anderson absolutely would not get on a bus. He owned a car and it was easy to drive where he needed to go. Now, you can’t get Anderson off the bus. He’s hooked.

“I was really slow to get introduced to bus service,” says Anderson, who manages the Washington State University Extension Office in Coupeville. “I always thought, ‘Why would I want to be inconvenienced by the bus when I have a car that will take me anywhere, whenever I want?’ But the inconvenience of the bus is only initial. Once you get set up, it’s really more convenient than driving a car. Now it’s hard to imagine living any other way.”

It took a couple of weeks for Anderson to get into the routine, “Then I really started enjoying it. It was like meditation. There was no stress. I wasn’t dealing with crazy drivers. I put all electronics away and re-centered myself. I look at the peninsula and the mountains – it’s just a gorgeous drive. I got hooked. I got really hooked.”

Anderson still drives his car, occasionally. “But I don’t use it much since I started riding the bus.” That, says Anderson, has a lot of benefits. “I put less than 1,000 miles a year on my car now. It may be the last car I own. No car payment, less insurance and less gas,” he says.

On average riding the bus can save about $8,000 each year. Plus Island Transit is a fare-free system. Passengers do not pay a fee to ride the bus. Anderson says, “That’s a bonus. You just hop on and go.”

COVID-19 has severely restricted bus service for a while. Anderson says initially he was concerned about riding the bus during the pandemic, but now, “I think I have enough info to know that I’m not going to be in any danger on the bus as long as I follow the guidelines.”

Island Transit is limiting ridership to 11 people on two-door buses; eight on one-door buses; and two on paratransit buses. It encourages riders to follow health guidelines like cover the face and wash hands frequently. The agency also provides face coverings to passengers without one, continuously wipes down hard surfaces and disinfects busses twice daily.

“I gave riding the bus a chance and it stuck,” says Anderson. “It’s not what they think it’s going to be. It’s much more fun. You just need to open your mind to it. It’s such a tremendous service.”

Island Transit, established in 1987, is a free public transit system serving Island County with routes that cover most of Whidbey and Camano islands.

To read the whole story about why Stinger Anderson rides with Island Transit, go to www.islandtransit.org/WhyIRide.

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